There are a few things you can normally bet your life on seeing when a new gaming console launches. For starters, you’re almost certainly going to see some graphical improvements, and chances are you’ll have at least one next-gen sequel to pine over. However, a newly-uncovered patent from Microsoft’s R&D division hints that something altogether more significant may be coming with the launch of the Xbox 720.
The patent describes an “environmental display” that would project game worlds across the walls of the room where the gamer is playing.
The device responsible is part projector, part Kinect camera sensor, and crucially would be capable of tracking depth in a 3D space by emitting infrared light patterns and registering where the player is blocking the signal. The patent also suggests that using a standard Kinect camera in tandem with the device would allow for postures and movements to be tracked and pulled into the games too, allowing you to interact with the projections.
It’s a concept that Microsoft have apparently been toying with for quite some time. Late last year Microsoft showcased a “home of the future” which utilised similar conceptual technology. You can see it in action in the video below ( the projection tech kicks in at around the 1 minute 30 seconds mark):
There’s also the possibility that the technology will work with Microsoft’s shutter 3D glasses, the leaked and rumoured Kinect Glasses technology that would allow the player to see such gaming scenarios unfold around them with added 3D depth.
Patently Apple quote Microsoft as working on “an immersive display environment [...] provided to a human user by projecting a peripheral image onto environmental surfaces around the user. The peripheral images serve as an extension to a primary image displayed on a primary display.”
Microsoft add that “the user may enjoy an immersive 3D experience using suitable headgear, such as active shutter glasses configured to operate in synchronization with suitable alternate-frame image sequencing at primary display and environmental display.”
It sounds mad, and, if we’re being crushingly honest, a little too far forward thinking to make it into the next generation of consoles like the Xbox 720. But when it comes to gaming, Microsoft are looking outside of the (goggle)box, which holds very exciting possibilities indeed.